“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realise that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” – STEVE MARABOLI
We’ve all had to make the hard decision of whether to stay on or let go at some point in our lives – whether it’s a job that doesn’t satisfy you anymore, or a relationship you’re unhappy in, or a friendship that’s toxic, or a dream that you’ve always had.
To be happy or to grow, people need to let go off stuff that is holding them back. In the book Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender, David R. Hawkins writes that letting go is like the sudden cessation of an inner pressure or the dropping of a weight. It is accompanied by a sudden feeling of relief and lightness, with an increased happiness and freedom.
But if only it was so easy to walk away as it is to stay. “Letting go is hard because we are wired to fear change,” says counselling psychologist Alice Mwende. “We stay in familiar grounds even though it doesn’t make us happy. What’s on the other side is unknown so we stick it out in an old unhappy relationship or a boring job because they are familiar,” she says.
Sometimes, letting go also involves looking inward and confronting past wounds – which is rather painful to do. But how do you know when to try a little harder and stick it out or when to let it go?
When It’s Time To Let Go
If you’re forcing yourself to be happy whenever you see that friend, it’s time to step back and evaluate whether it’s worth the trouble. If you’re feeling obligated to stay in a relationship or a job, chances are you won’t be happy and it will end up feeling like a burden.
You’re Not Being Valued:
Your boss doesn’t value your contribution at work? You don’t matter to your friends anymore? Your partner doesn’t value you or puts you down? You’ve tried to remedy the situation and there’s no change? The problem might not be you. It’s time to go.
You’re Not Growing:
If you’re not learning and there are no prospects for development at your current work place, staying in a dead-end job may harm your chances of getting another one. Similarly, in personal relationships, sometimes, people grow apart or fall out of love. It’s natural to feel sad or bitter when you’ve tried to save the relationship, but staying will only increase resentment.
The Environment Is Toxic:
If your job, people or culture have a negative effect on your life, it’s time to move on to something new. If you’re in a relationship characterised by physical or verbal abuse, you definitely deserve better than that. Walk away. Your physical, mental and spiritual health will thank you.
You’re Compromising Your Values:
A little compromise in a relationship is normal, but when you’re giving away too much of what is important to you, that’s a big red flag. If the values or policies of your workplace go against what you believe in, this might affect your job performance, which is unhealthy for both you and your employer.
Your Past Is Hurting You:
“When your past is hurting your present, it’s nearly always caused by one of two things: remorse or regret over something done by you, or bitterness or fear caused by something done to you,” says Sue Augustine in When Your Past Is Hurting Your Present: Getting Beyond Fears That Hold You Back. Although the past can poison you, it’s you that’s holding on to it.
Tips For Letting Go
Make The Decision To Let It Go:
You can’t be trying to make things better and, say, at the same time, plotting to leave. Consider the pros and cons of staying. If the cons outweigh the pros, you need to move on.
Holding on to anger and resentment is not good for your health. You need to forgive past wounds if you are to move forward. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reuniting with the person who hurt you, though. As Lewis B. Smedes says, “Waiting for someone to repent before we forgive is to surrender our future to the person who wronged us.” Forgiveness also involves forgiving yourself for past mistakes. Don’t be too hard on yourself. We all make mistakes.
Have A Positive View Of The Future:
Thinking about the past and all the effort and even money you put into what’s holding you back won’t help you much. Instead, it’s bound to keep you there longer. Having a positive view of the future will make it easier to let go.
Prep Up For The Feelings Of Loss:
You’ll feel a sense of loss at some point – it’s only natural. Then, you’ll start second-guessing yourself and the decisions you’ve made. Evaluate why you left and visualise the place you’re heading to, to help steer yourself forward.